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Shuttle Cameras Yield Excellent Footage 275

Jivecat writes "All those extra cameras NASA has added to the Space Shuttle to watch for debris impacts have yielded what may be the coolest Shuttle launch footage ever. The forward-facing view from the right-hand SRB shows, at about the 2:58 mark, booster separation and Discovery zooming away. Other views are available at the main mission site."
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Shuttle Cameras Yield Excellent Footage

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  • by CK2004PA ( 827615 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:12PM (#15693008)
    the NASA site suggests. The MPlayer plugin for Firefox (same thing you use for CNN's video) works fine. Great footage.
  • worth watching (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:16PM (#15693035) Homepage Journal

    For the one video linked, I'm amazed it didn't get slashdotted immediately. Very interesting to watch the launch sequence. At 3 min, I thought it was getting a bit boring, but wondered what else was interesting in the rest of the footage. At about 8 min, it got interesting again, with the very quick transition from "over the clouds" to "underwater". Not much new to see after 9 min though.

    I do wish my webcam could deal with that wide a range of operating environments though! You quickly forget the engineering that goes into something as simple as a camera housing.

    • Re:worth watching (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alizarin Erythrosin ( 457981 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:41PM (#15693207)
      Its all running a little slow now...

      Anyways, if you haven't seen it yet, check out the right SRB looking-down-o-cam []. Great shot of the shadow of the smoke trail, and as the main orbiter engines light off you can see the whole orbiter start to press up on the structure. Then the explosive bolts blow and the boosters rip to life. Very cool.
      • The lense must have gotten coated with something (ice?) right after separation... the shots of the earth as it falls back aren't nearly as clear as the ones from the looking-up cam.
    • Re:worth watching (Score:3, Interesting)

      by oni ( 41625 )
      At about 8 min, it got interesting again, with the very quick transition from "over the clouds" to "underwater".

      That was pretty cool, wasn't it. I also thought it was pretty cool how the booster stood up after it hit the water. I wasn't aware that they were designed to do that. I guess that makes them easier to spot from the recovery ships.

      Man, those engineeers thought of everything didn't they - here's another example that I heard recently: the metal that the external tank is made of isn't strong enough
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @04:00PM (#15693350)
      > For the one video linked, I'm amazed it didn't get slashdotted immediately.

      If I could just download the copy of /right_forward_srb_camera.wmv being mirrored through (, it would probably have stayed up longer.

      But a certain DRM-infected media player doesn't welcome the SaveAs menu overlord. After all, how dare anyone think of downloading something (at whatever bitrate their client, or the overloaded server, might support) to your hard drive where you could play it back at your leisure, when you can just download the same content, asking the central server for permission over and over again, every time you wanted to see something?

      Streaming video blows goats. The video's probably in the public domain. Put up a goddamn downloadable .MOV, .MPG, or yes, even a .WMV link. But enough of the streaming video, and don't even get me started on a site that requires a Javashit popup to load the goddamn .asx file that points to the streaming video in the first place. Web design ain't rocket science -- it's EASIER than rocket science. Last time I checked, there were a few folks at NASA who have the requisite skills, right?

      To give credit to rocket scientists who do get it, check out how the JPL folks working on the Cassini mission [] handle videos. You know before you click, not just what format it's in, but how big it's gonna be, and you get to save everything to disk.

      Earth to NASA: Dump the streaming video, at least for public domain content.

  • by lpangelrob ( 714473 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:17PM (#15693044)
    Something like 4m 30s of freefall (3:00-7:30) on that video. Very neat. Can someone with greater knowledge than I explain how the camera survived re-entry, or is there no re-entry at that altitude yet?
    • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:22PM (#15693088) Journal
      The SRB's never technically 'leave' the atmosphere so they can't re-enter. They are going pretty fast but not Mach 25 like the shuttle and station are doing on orbit. Maybe a few (2-4) Mach. Actually the shuttle goes quite slow while the SRB's are on because the atmosphere is so dense at low altitudes (the SRB's are only on for just over 2 minutes) because dynamic pressure builds up quickly ( a linear function of air density and a square of velocity ) so you keep your velocity at a fair clip until the atmosphere thins and then speed up. Long story short the SRB's aren't going that fast, and the cameras are in a good housing. The cam itself is made by these guys []
    • Re-entry heat is mostly about aerobraking from orbital speeds .. the SRBs separate fairly early while still in the atmosphere and travelling relatively slowlow - so while I'm sure there is some friction heat from the atmosphere it's nothing like what happens when you try and drop 20,000 mph by slamming into the upper atmostphere.

  • Rain of Ice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    These are cool views, but NASA has always had a set of cameras (albeit smaller) watching launches. In the "Leaving the Cradle - Apollo 8" series of DVDs from the NASA archives, you can (repetitively!) watch the launch from a variety of viewpoints.

    In every view, you are amazed to see a shower of ice and who-knows-what kind of debris as these huge missiles shook themselves off and flung themselves into orbit.

    Who decided on a delicate shuttle, anyway?
    • That shower of ice is what the foam insulation is preventing.
    • The shuttle is stronger than nearly any plane on earth. However, the velocities, energy and stresses involved are far greater than any plane on earth faces.

      A 1.5 lb chunk of foam travelling at >500 mph generates at least 10,000 lbs of force/sq ft when it impacts. There are not many materials that can survive that and still be light enough to fly into space with a decent sized cargo. At least, not at a reasonable cost (and many think the shuttle's cost is unreasonable as it is). It is simply a hazard
      • pounds, miles, feet !

        A 0.68kg chunk of foam travelling at > 223.52 m/s generates at least 48926.81 kg of force / square meter


        1kg at 223.52 m/s generates 71951.19 kg of force / square meter

        I hope =)
  • by citking ( 551907 ) <> on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:23PM (#15693099) Homepage
    Try THAT on a sound stage in a desert!!

    Beautiful video. I imagine the part after it separates would be awesome drunk.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:25PM (#15693103) Homepage
    I am amazed at how these cameras manage to survive and produce a steady image from the atmosphere, into space, and back. This leads me to believe that instead of using foam insulation, we should cover the entire shuttle in cameras.
  • by lobsterGun ( 415085 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:29PM (#15693138)
    About 10 minutes into it I found myself thinking, "Man! I hope they pull me out soon, I can't hold my breath much longer."

    That I would have had to hold my breath through the whole liftoff sequence didn't really bother me - just the being under water part.

  • Did NASA recover the camera for analysis? I was amazed by this silent footage even though it was long.
  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @03:42PM (#15693217) Homepage
    Interestingly, watch closely, a couple minutes in, you can see pressure waves form small clouds on the leading edge of the shuttle as it breaks the sound barrier. *Very* cool stuff...
  • by Goldenhawk ( 242867 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @04:10PM (#15693420) Homepage
    There's a LOT of neat stuff in there. For example:

    1:30-1:40 Mach transition (breaking the sound barrier - watch the nose)
    2:39 a rather visible bit of debris flies right past the camera
    2:58 separation from the orbiter/tank stack
    3:59 as the booster tumbles, you can briefly spot the shuttle as a bright dot
    5:18 you can see the smoke plume thru the upper atmosphere
    7:13 some debris goes past the booster camera
    7:17 you can see a shroud (parachute) line falling
    7:25 you can very briefly see a chute
    7:30 water entry
    7:40 the chute falls into the water
    8:00 as the booster floats, the chutes and shroud lines are clearly visible around the booster
  • Just in case NASA changes the links/Web page. Right Forward SRB Camera []. This one shows the space shuttle launching from the launch pad, to space, and then crashing into the water (not going underwater like the other video).

    Amazing videos! If there are any more, then please share! :)
  • Check it out just before 3 minutes. That separation from the Shuttle is an awesome scene. No sci-fi movie can touch it, wow!!

    Also the way the horizon starts to curve and half of it turning dark... great stuff.
  • Temp Video Mirror (Score:4, Informative)

    by fire-eyes ( 522894 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @04:21PM (#15693502) Homepage []

    let me know if you can find any others, especially if you can find the full high quality version (one of the mpegs above is a small clip of the high quality version).
  • by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @04:31PM (#15693582) Journal
    The main thing coming to mind watching that video as the booster fell after the lens cleaned off was:

    I'm dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There's an awful lot of that now isn't it? And whats this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like 'Ow', 'Ownge', 'Round', 'Ground'! Thats it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it'll be friends with me? Hello Ground!
  • Can someone tell me what those random dark patches on the underside of the shuttle are? Is that deliberate coloration, or are those missing tiles? Or something else entirely?
    • Re:Belly of shuttle (Score:3, Informative)

      by EnderGT ( 916132 )
      New tiles vs. Old tiles.

      The heat shield tiles are designed to be reused for several missions. If they fail inspection after a mission, they are replaced prior to the next mission.

  • Oh my God! (Score:3, Funny)

    by cmacb ( 547347 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @04:57PM (#15693763) Homepage Journal
    That thing obviously killed a large jellyfish when it hit the water.

    We must end this MURDEROUS space program NOW, before it is too late for the planet!

    What? That was the parachute?

    Uh. Oh, never-mind.
  • Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BaronSprite ( 651436 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @05:00PM (#15693793) Homepage
    Shorter then any hollywood film I've seen, and it moved me more then any film I've ever seen. The launch probably cost the same. If this isn't proof of the results a small percentage of our bomb making taxes can provide, I don't think you're a sane person.

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.